Picks and Pans Review: Jamaica Inn

UPDATED 06/03/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/03/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Syndication (check local listings)

Look, you like Jane Seymour or you don't (East of Eden, The Sun Also Rises). Personally, she Jamaica me crazy! She's beautiful, yes. Intelligent, one assumes. But something's missing—like in one of those alcohol-free drinks. In Jamaica Inn, based on Daphne du Maurier's 1936 novel, the British-bred actress plays Mary Yellan, a plucky sea captain's daughter living in a village on the moors in 19th-century England. Although the production is lovely to behold, there's no kick, no fire in Seymour's non-intoxicating performance. Part of the problem is her banal American accent. The action begins—and a swell beginning it is—when Mary's father is killed after his schooner mysteriously runs aground. When Mary's grief-stricken mother (Vivian Pickles) dies, Mary goes to live with her Aunt Patience (Billie Whitelaw), who's married to Uncle Joss (Patrick McGoohan), the proprietor of Jamaica Inn—not exactly Best Western. When Mary arrives, she finds, to her horror, no valet parking, no maids, no customers! Just Uncle Joss, who has the manners of Hulk Hogan, and Aunt Patience, a former raving beauty who is now just raving. Patience, who lives in fear of her husband, knows the secrets of the inn—secrets Mary must never know, lest her hair turn gray and her face prune up. Since this is a romantic adventure, enter Jem (Trevor Eve), Joss' dashing, Robin Hood-like brother, who takes a fancy to Mary. Lawrence Gordon Clark's direction moves the action steadily toward its climax, with lusty performances by McGoohan and Eve. Filmed on location, the lush green scenery steals the show. This quest for authenticity, however, does not apply to Seymour, who looks throughout as if she's doing a Revlon commercial. Even when she wakes up in bed in the middle of the night, there's not an eyelash out of place. It does strain credibility.

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